The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live, work and socialise. From social distancing to wearing face coverings, the pandemic and what is required of us changes daily. Above all, working from home has become a national health necessity. Which is why in April 2020, 46.6% of people in employment did some of their work from home and 86% of these homeworkers said this was because of the coronavirus.
It was a dramatic shift for the public sector in particular, with a YouGov survey in April showing that only 36% of non-managerial workers in the public sector felt capable of working effectively from home.
Without advances in technology, this wouldn’t have been possible. Now, work is where the Wi-Fi is. Here’s how remote working has affected the public sector.
- How Remote Working for the Public Sector Is Possible
- The Impact of Remote Working on Employees
- The Impact of Remote Working on Employers
How Remote Working for the Public Sector Is Possible
Without technology, remote working would have been near impossible for many public sector workers. As technology has advanced, the way we work has evolved for the better and has been instrumental in keeping many people in work throughout the pandemic.
Digital office applications, as well as tools such as email, Zoom, Google's G-Suite and Slack, have enabled users to work remotely from home, wherever that may be, as long as there’s a Wi-Fi connection.
Public sector organisations that were behind in technology before the pandemic have now been forced to invest in the latest tools and technology to enable people to work from home. Although these IT investments were made for the short-term, it will deliver a long-term benefit.
Now workers have the means to effectively work from home, the momentum for remote working will only increase.
The Impact of Remote Working on Employees
From no commute to more quality time with family and friends, employees enjoy a variety of benefits when remote working.
Save Time on Commute
Right now, working from home is mandatory for many individuals, but an incredible positive that has come from this is the flexibility and convenience it offers employees. According to a survey conducted in 2017, 45% of people spend over an hour commuting a day. That’s one hour of sitting or standing still on a train, bus or in a car.
Another study by Populus showed 55% of 1,500 commuters surveyed reported an increase in stress levels during their journey. This is likely due to overcrowding and delays because transport can’t cope with demand.
A study from by Tyto, a technology PR agency, found remote working saves London commuters an average of 23.5 days per year in travel time or the equivalent of £10,020 in unpaid time. Remote working gives employees this time and money back.
More Personal Time
Not only that, but the daily commute is also eating into people's quality of life in a variety of ways. This includes less time spent with family and friends, a reduced amount of physical activity and fewer hours of sleep.
Since lockdown began, public sector workers have saved time and money and reduced stress by avoiding their daily commute. With no commute, employees have had more sleep, more time to spend with family or friends that they live with, on their hobbies and even more time to catch up on work if they need to.
Childcare Cost Savings
The UK lockdown saw schools across the country close from 24th March 2020 and re-open on 14th September 2020. In this time, many employees enjoyed the benefits of working from home because they were able to stay home with their children while they worked, saving money on childcare.
The Impact of Remote Working on Employers
Employees aren't alone in gaining a variety of benefits from remote working, employers enjoy a lower carbon footprint, greater employee retention rates and more.
Across the globe, organisations are consistently looking for ways to reduce their carbon emissions, but the daily commute to work seems to be the biggest culprit. According to the BBC, in the UK and US, the transport sector is responsible for more greenhouse gases than any other. Globally, it accounts for around one-quarter of CO2 emissions.
In the first two weeks of lockdown, the UK saw a dramatic drop in air pollution, with some cities seeing nitrogen dioxide levels fall by up to 60%. It’s shown just how much the daily commute is affecting the planet, but it’s also presented a way to reduce it - remote working.
Recruitment and Retention
As an employer, it’s important to strive for as high an employee retention rate as possible. Employee retention in organisations that embrace remote working has seen an increase of 10% - something that greatly benefits the employer. The longer an employee stays with an organisation, the better the reputation of the organisation and the better an employee understands their job. This, in turn, delivers greater results.
In terms of recruiting new employees, remote working opens up an even bigger door. It’s an appealing perk of any job that will attract top talent from all over, giving employers the pick of the best, not just from the local talent pool.
Health and Wellbeing
Cartridge People reports working from home reduces sick days with the average homeworker taking 2.4 sick days per year, in comparison to the 2.6 taken by those working from company premises. This reduction is likely because individuals can achieve a better work-life balance and can spend more time maintaining better health and general wellbeing. In fact, 60% of homeworkers report feeling happier.
The fear for many employers when implementing remote working is that they’ll see a decrease in productivity. However, statistics show the opposite is true. According to a study conducted by Cardiff University, 39% of people who work remotely tend to work additional hours compared to 24% of those who work the usual 9-5 in an office.
Ultimately, by enabling remote working, many organisations have actually seen an increase in conscientiousness. Often, the challenge is getting the correct advice to help your organisation excel when working from home.
If you’re interested in learning more about implementing remote working and how it can benefit the public sector, take a look at our upcoming summit below.
Learn More About Remote Working
COVID-19 has dramatically changed public sector working practices, creating unprecedented challenges across every area of work. As the government moves closer to returning to work, public sector organisations need to revisit plans for their working environments.
To help the public sector achieve better smart working arrangements, GovNet Events has gathered a panel of Smart Working experts to reflect on their experiences and learnings of remote working during the pandemic. If you’d like to learn more about this, download our exclusive 9-page report by clicking on the button below.
Alternatively, you may wish to learn more by joining us for our Smart Estates & Workforce Virtual Summit 2020 - covering everything you need to know to effectively deliver smart working strategies in government and the wider public sector.
The summit will feature inspirational, interactive session content, 1-2-1 and group networking, plus opportunities to discover industry-leading solutions. Plus, it’s all delivered through our purpose-built virtual event platform which you have access to for a full 30 days. Click the button below to learn more.